New Jersey made significant strides in catching up to Nevada in the race to become the first state to offer online poker as a Senate committee unanimously approved Internet gambling on casino games.
In an 11-0 vote with one lone abstention being that of Sen. Paul Sarlo (D-Wood-Ridge), New Jersey lawmakers have decidedly jumped back into the race with Nevada. Next up is a vote by the entire Senate and Assembly, which could happen later this month.
New Jersey has often stated its desire to be known as America’s gambling center. For years they have been playing second fiddle to Nevada, as Las Vegas is known worldwide as the top gambling location in the United States. By winning the race to be first in online gambling, Atlantic City casinos could possibly remove some of the luster and excitement that is attached to the Las Vegas name in the eyes of gamblers throughout the globe.
Sen. Ray Lesniak (D-Union), who sponsored the latest proposal along with Sen. James Whelan (D-Atlantic), showed the inferiority complex that New Jersey suffers from by recently stating, “I don’t want to be left behind the state of Nevada like we were with sports betting. I don’t want that to happen again, and I don’t want Nevada to monopolize this market.”
Lesniak’s bill, in its current form, would allow the Garden State to join a consortium of other states in accepting wagers. The measure also makes provisions for residents of other countries to wager at online New Jersey casinos if the state’s Division of Gaming Enforcement finds that no federal laws would be violated in such a scheme.
Lesniak optimistically feels that Atlantic City-based poker sites could be up and running as early as September, which is similar to the timeline envisioned by Nevada gaming officials. Mark Lipparelli, chairman of the Nevada Gaming Control Board, recently said that “although we’re not certain how long this process will take, it’s plausible, even likely, that you’ll see the first set of systems approved for initial deployment by the fall,” regarding online poker in the Silver State.
The race is on. California and Delaware are also in the running to be the first state to offer online poker and gambling on an intrastate format, but are considered dark horses. Delaware lawmakers are expected to introduce the Gaming Competitiveness Act of 2012 sometime this week. California has active online gambling bills pending before the state legislature, but in-fighting among the horse racing industry, card rooms and tribal gaming interests is expected to slow down the approval of online gambling legislation in the Golden State.